Chasing dreams: deer hunting on the North Kaibab

By Tom Cadden, public information officer, Arizona Game and Fish Department

Hunting on the North Kaibab plateau is a unique experience in many ways. The diverse natural splendor of this area—spruce, fir and aspen “high country,” stately ponderosa pine forest, and pinyon-juniper ridges punctuated by rugged canyons—makes any hunting or camping adventure a special one.

But when most hunters think of the North Kaibab, they think of its world-renowned—and sometimes maligned—deer herd, which ranges primarily in Game Management Units 12A east and west and in portions of Unit 12B. Many record-class animals have been taken from this area over the years, and the resulting articles and stories have led to inflated expectations by some hunters of finding a huge buck behind every tree and bush.


The North Kaibab herd is one of the most studied mule deer herds in the country. Some hunters say the great days of hunting this herd are a thing of the past, while others say it is, or will be, as good as ever.

“The herd goes in ebb-and-flow cycles,” says Tom Britt, an avid deer hunter and retired regional supervisor for the Arizona Game and Fish Department. “Weather and habitat conditions are key factors. Given the right conditions, that herd historically has the ability to proliferate, such as we saw in the 1980s.”

Management is also a factor. In the 1980s, when populations were abundant, the herd was managed to provide more opportunity for hunters. Even with the persistent, long-term drought we’ve had over the last decade, the North Kaibab deer herd now is being managed under an alternative management plan, with objectives of maintaining a high buck-to-doe ratio, increasing the representation of older-age bucks in the population (therefore providing hunters with older, larger animals to harvest), and providing for higher hunt success in late-season hunts.

Data currently indicates that the buck-to-doe ratio is well within alternative guidelines. The yearling buck weights have increased in recent years, and the average age of a buck harvested on the late hunts has climbed in the past few years from 2 years to more than 4 years old. To achieve these favorable parameters, the population has been reduced, and deer densities are lower than in the 1980s. To ensure the long-term sustainability of the herd, it’s critical to keep populations in line with the carrying capacity that the winter range habitat can support.


Two general deer seasons take place in 12A east and west: early and late. The early season this year runs from Oct. 27 through Nov. 5, and the late season is from Nov. 24 through Dec. 3. It is difficult to be drawn for these popular hunts, particularly the late-season hunt when deer are approaching the rut. For example, in 2005 only 50 permits were issued for 3,373 first- and second-choice applicants for the 12A east late hunt, and only 175 permits were issued for 5,837 applicants for the 12A west late hunt.

Preparation and scouting

As with any hunt, preparation and scouting are important. “Learn the country and where the roads go,” says Britt. “Use maps to become familiar with the area; then get out and drive and walk the terrain. Some of that country is steep and demanding, and cell phones don’t work well up there. Always leave word with someone where you’ll be, because some hunters do get lost, or ‘temporarily displaced,’ each year.”

Britt also advises that access to some areas can be tricky, particularly in wet or snowy weather. “There are several steep or shady spots on roads in 12A west and east where ice formation can make travel hazardous, especially if you’re pulling a trailer,” he says. “On the west side, some of those clay bottom roads get really slick when wet. If you haven’t driven any of the roads in these units, talk with someone who is familiar with the area before heading out.”

Hunting tips

For the early hunts, most of the deer typically will be at the higher elevations, depending on food supply. Britt advises hunters to hunt where they’ve spotted deer on their scouting trips. “Even though the deer have a large range, they tend to be more predictable and move less this time of year. If you see some animals during your scouting trip, go back and hunt where you’ve seen them.”

Because the plateau is normally very dry during the early hunt, hunting near waterholes can be productive, whether they hold water or not.

Britt also says there has been a good Gambel’s oak acorn crop this year. Acorns have a high fat content and are a highly desired food source for deer. “I’d see if there are acorns in those oak thickets,” says Britt. “If so, I’d hunt those thickets, even in the late season, if there isn’t snow covering the ground.”

When it snows and the temperatures drop, which typically happens by the time of the late hunt, deer head to lower elevations. They seek cover in junipers on ridges and canyons at lower elevations, or even head out to sage and open canyon country. Using your binoculars and having patience are important.

“Glassing is the only way to go during the late hunt,” says Jim Higgs, an avid hunter and retired Game and Fish Department wildlife manager. “Do your glassing toward the heads of canyons and the draws where there are pockets of trees. You can spot places where the bucks like to bed down. If it has snowed, spotting them is easier.”

Be patient and flexible. Sitting in one spot and glassing for long periods of time may be tedious, but can pay dividends. Also be prepared to walk the ridges and canyons, which can be physically strenuous.

Britt says that, contrary to conventional wisdom, snow doesn’t always make for a great late-season hunt. “We’ve had some good years without much snow and bad years with it,” he says.

Enjoy your hunt

Above all, Britt advises hunters to undertake their Kaibab hunt with realistic expectations. “The North Kaibab does have an uncommon ability to grow big deer,” he says, “but harvest data we analyzed from 1953 through 1993 indicated less than .5 percent of the deer harvested on the Kaibab during that time met the minimum score for a record-book listing. From the statistics, we determined the average hunter would have had to hunt about 1,200 days and harvest about 278 bucks to take one trophy-book-quality deer.”

Britt’s best advice for hunters: Have fun, be safe, and enjoy the total outdoor experience of hunting this outstanding setting.

For more information on hunting this area, check out the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s hunt unit information at

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Hunting outlook: quail, cottontail, deer and elk
By Mark Zornes, small game biologist, and Brian Wakeling, big game supervisor, Arizona Game and Fish Department


Early reports appear to confirm the department's forecast that hunters should not expect a repeat of last year’s terrific season for Gambel’s quail, although those who do their homework and try new areas can find pockets of good-to-excellent hunting. Record-dry conditions statewide negatively impacted Gambel’s quail production, although some broods were brought off in localized areas. Renesting attempts and late broods occurred in some areas in response to better summer conditions. Carryover in many areas appears to be decent, so locations that supported a lot of birds last year likely will have a number of birds this year, but hunting will be a bit “sporty." Reports indicate there aren't many juveniles in these populations. Expect these coveys of older-aged birds to flush wild and challenge your endurance.


Hunting scaled quail will likely be mediocre at best, although this species can delay reproduction to coincide with the summer monsoon. Even so, hunters shouldn't expect a repeat of last year, and nothing in the early reports has indicated otherwise. Again, those who scout will be most successful.

The season for Mearns’ quail will likely be decent in response to carryover and this summer’s monsoon. Recent surveying showed good numbers of coveys and birds in each covey. Look at the rainfall patterns, and scout the area for cover conditions to increase your chance for success. Remember, Mearns’ quail are a bird of grassland savannahs and require good grass cover interspersed with oaks or pines to survive. Some of the rougher habitats in Mearns’ country can provide the hunter with less company and good shooting.


Region I (Pinetop)

Quail hunting is rarely good here, except in the south end of Game Management Unit 27. Both Gambel’s and Mearns’ quail can be found in appropriate habitats. Since much of the region is unsuitable as quail habitat, finding huntable numbers can be a challenge. Mearns’ quail are found throughout the unit, but suitable habitats are widely scattered. A few scaled quail can be found, primarily in association with the Little Colorado River drainage. If you choose to pursue these birds, plan on spending more time chasing cottontails, since quail numbers are relatively low.


Region II (Flagstaff)

Quail hunting is limited due to lack of suitable habitat. Field personnel expect some fair Gambel’s quail hunting in the southern portion of Game Management Unit 6B and better hunting on the western end of the Arizona Strip in Unit 13B.


Region III (Kingman)

Region III will have some of the better quail hunting opportunities this year. Gambel’s hunting should be fair to good, with pockets being excellent. Post-season carryover was very good, and the hatch was better in this portion of the state than in most areas. Hunters can continue to expect some decent hunting, particularly from I-40 south toward Wickenburg. The eastern portions of this region likely will produce only fair Gambel’s hunting. Much of the region can be challenging for hunters and dogs, so be prepared for some demanding hunts.


Region IV (Yuma)

Region IV expects a decent year for Gambel’s quail, particularly along the larger riparian and agricultural areas. Don’t expect to find a lot of birds in the drier portions of the region.


Region V (Tucson)

Gambel’s quail call count data from this spring suggested that little, if any, reproduction occurred in much of Region V this year. In addition, Gambel’s numbers were lower in southeastern Arizona last year, so hunters can expect to find poor or mediocre Gambel’s quail hunting this season. Scaled quail hunting is also likely to be poor, with a few pockets of fair hunting. The bright spot will be Mearns’ quail, whose numbers were positively influenced by monsoon moisture and decent carryover. Quail abundance will correlate well with areas that received adequate precipitation and have good cover.


Region VI (Mesa)

Unlike last year, the best that central Arizona should offer this year is poor-to-fair Gambel’s quail hunting. Hunting will be decent in some areas, but covey composition will be skewed toward older-aged birds, increasing the challenge. As always, hunters should pre-scout, since significant areas had poor reproduction. Areas with good bird numbers last year will continue to produce opportunity. Expect to do more walking this year.




Once again, cottontail hunting should be very good throughout much of the state. Winter carryover and good summer rains allowed populations to maintain their upward trend. Hunters who choose not to hunt cottontails are doing themselves a disservice, since the meat is light, delicate and enjoyable. If you spend any time in washes, rocky foothills or areas of dense brush, you will encounter this species regularly this year. Cottontails offer a great opportunity to introduce a youngster to hunting. They provide a challenging hunt for old and young alike. Still-hunting (i.e., “sneaking”) along desert or mountain washes, ridgelines or in areas of dense brush, armed with a .22-caliber rifle, shotgun or archery equipment, can provide hours of enjoyment, hone your big game hunting skills and yield a great-tasting meal. Rabbit hunting before quail season gives you an opportunity to scout for other species and hunt without much competition. Taking advantage of Arizona’s multi-species opportunities can go a long way toward filling that freezer.


Region I (Pinetop)

Forecasts from all game management units in this region rate cottontail hunting from good to excellent.


Region II (Flagstaff)

Cottontail hunting will vary from fair to excellent. To maximize your chance for success, hunt the lower-elevation portions of units north of the Colorado River. The best hunting south of the Grand Canyon will likely occur in Unit 6B.


Region III (Kingman)

Cottontails have been reported to be abundant and may yield some of the better cottontail hunting in the state this year. Units 10, 16A, 17A, 17B and 19A likely will have some of the best opportunities. Much of the region is suitable habitat for this species, presenting many opportunities.


Region IV (Yuma)

Cottontails are abundant this year. Any of the larger washes, brushy foothills, river margins and agricultural borders should provide ample opportunities for the cottontail hunter.


Region V (Tucson)

Cottontail hunting will be good this year in the lower and middle elevations. Get out early and enjoy some of the best hunting of the year.


Region VI (Mesa)

Central Arizona should offer some good-to-excellent cottontail hunting. Despite dry winter conditions, cottontails carried over well throughout the winter, and this summer’s moisture has produced a bumper crop of young rabbits. Hunters should concentrate their efforts around desert washes and in the rocky foothills.


Statewide, deer fawn recruitment increased for both white-tailed deer and mule deer for a second year. Yearling bucks (spikes and forkhorns) may be available in many units this year. Do not expect droves of deer, but you should note a moderate improvement in numbers, and possibly in size.


Regions I through IV are known mainly for mule deer and provide good hunting opportunities for this species. Even with recent improvement, Region IV mule deer tend to be in low-density herds, so plan to wear out the seat of your pants using binoculars rather than boots to be successful. This can be an important strategy regardless of where you hunt, but is more difficult in forests. Mule deer numbers in Regions V and VI are also stable to slightly increasing.


Regions V and VI have the most popular white-tailed deer units, and glassing is essential for finding these elusive ghosts. Increases in fawn recruitment from last year should translate into more young bucks this year. Look closely: Many “skin heads” turn out to be young bucks on further scrutiny. Regions I and II have lesser-known but excellent white-tailed deer hunts. Areas recovering from recent fires can be productive, especially near steep terrain and canyons that white-tails seem to favor.


Regardless of where you were drawn this year, know the boundaries of your unit. Check your tag to be certain of the area for which you were drawn. Every year a few hunters assume they were drawn for their first choice when they were actually drawn for an alternate unit, but don’t find out otherwise until they get to camp, or, worse yet, until a wildlife manager checks their harvested deer. It can be an expensive mistake. And don’t forget to sign your tag.



Although fall survey data is preliminary, many areas are reporting good calf numbers and favorable bull:cow ratios. Elk habitat that suffered from fires two to five years ago is producing good herbaceous vegetation as a result of summer rains. In addition to recruitment, favorable forage conditions are also good for antler development, although the dry winter may have reduced their overall potential. Those with antlerless permits may be in luck. Mountain men in the 1800s were convinced that “fat cow” was far better than “poor bull” for table fare, and younger animals are more tender and generally easier (lighter) to pack out. For those looking for larger antlered bulls, search somewhat off the beaten path (but not necessarily a long way off). Herds that are expanding their range often include more mature bulls. Some of the largest bulls we have seen were at lower elevations in what many consider to be pronghorn habitat.


Regions I and II (Pinetop, Flagstaff)
Wildfires did not play a large role this year. Older burned areas are going to be attractive to elk. Elk often respond to early accumulations of snowfall by moving to lower elevations, but a single snowfall event will not immediately drive all elk out of an area. Rainfall and snow can cause unfavorable road conditions. Always try to minimize the impact you have on primitive roads.


Region III (Kingman)
Elk populations have been productive and wide-ranging. Much of the elk habitats are large landscapes with interspersed pinyon-juniper woodland. These animals can be highly mobile and may seem to vaporize once hunts begin. Being in the field early and late can be important, especially later in the hunt. This strategy can be critical regardless of your unit and region.


Region V (Tucson) and Region VI (Mesa)
Although Region V has elk hunts in Units 28 and 31, these areas are managed for elk at low densities. These can be tough hunts in nontraditional areas. You may need more than your share of good luck to be successful. Region VI elk populations are doing well. Units 22 and 23 continue to be good producers of quality animals.


Virtually any unit in Arizona has the potential to produce a record-book bull. To make the most of your opportunity, be certain that your rifle is shooting accurately before you get to the field. Judging distances can be more challenging with elk hunting than with virtually any other hunt. Distances in forested habitat just seem closer than they really are; you expect long distances with pronghorn or deer hunting, but mistakes that change the outcome of a hunt are easy to make when pursuing elk.

Schedule set for first-ever winter draw for elk, antelope 
By Rory Aikens, public information officer, Arizona Game and Fish Department

Big game hunters are about to see a big change to the timing of the draw for two of the most popular hunting seasons in Arizona. This will be the first year that the Arizona Game and Fish Department holds a winter draw for elk and antelope tags.

The Arizona Game and Fish Commission conducted a special meeting on Oct. 27 to set the application schedule for the new winter draw. The idea of the switch is to let hunters know early enough whether they have been drawn for these two popular big game animals, prior to their applying for fall deer, turkey, javelina, bear and buffalo hunts during the traditional application process in the spring.

The application deadline for elk and antelope is Feb. 13. Hunt permit-tags and refund warrants will be mailed out by April 27.

“The commission will actually set the permit numbers for the elk and antelope hunting seasons during its meeting on Dec. 9 in Phoenix, but we wanted to have the application schedule set now so potential applicants can better plan ahead,” said Assistant Director Richard Rico, special services division.

The department will begin accepting applications for elk and antelope as soon as the regulations are posted on the department’s Web site at That posting should occur by the end of December. The printed regulations should be available at hunting license dealers by Jan. 12.

The grace period for the winter draw will end at 5 p.m. on Jan. 19. During the grace period, if a paper hunt-permit tag application that is manually submitted contains an error, then the department will make three attempts within a 24-hour period to notify the applicant by telephone (if a phone number is provided).

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Been hunting? The Walker brothers get their deer 
By Loretta Walker, Mesa

Robert Walker (right) with his sons Trebor and Clayton.It was cold and snowy on the North Kaibab when my husband Robert and I drove up with our two sons, Trebor, 13, and Clayton, 11, for our October 2004 deer hunt. The temperature dropped to 24F the night we arrived. Although we normally camp when we hunt, we opted for the comfort of the Jacob Lake Lodge.

On the first day of the hunt, Trebor spotted three does. Trebor and Clayton took aim, but the deer escaped. Both boys forgot to put a bullet in the chamber!

As we started off on the second day, so did five other trucks, all with hunters having the same goal as ours. We twisted up, down and around the landscape, then pulled off and parked. Robert spotted the silhouettes of deer running on the ridge above us, and he and the boys decided to go up the ridge. I followed for a while, then returned to the truck to wait.

As they walked the ridge, the deer worked their way below them. Another group of hunters trailing the deer shot and missed. The deer scattered, and our boys hustled to the top of the ridge to see if they could intercept them. Robert spotted more deer half-way up a canyon. Trebor focused on a doe 200 yards across the canyon. He assessed his situation, aimed and took two shots, both of which appeared to hit their mark. The guys climbed down and began tracking the deer from the point they first saw it.

While Trebor was tracking his deer, Robert spotted another deer the next canyon over. He and Clayton hiked halfway down, and Clayton took aim and shot 175 yards across the canyon. The shot hit its mark.

When Trebor walked up to me as I waited at the truck, he told me the great news. “We got ‘em, Mom. Both of us got one!” After some hugs, water and a candy bar, he related the story and said, “We gotta go up.”

Climbing that mountain again was much easier knowing that my sons had their deer. Down the canyon, Robert and Clayton were finishing field dressing Trebor’s deer. Robert loaded up the quarters and hiked out to the truck. We then used GPS to find and field dress Clayton’s deer.

The four of us celebrated with the granola bars and water I’d packed in. The hike out  of the canyon seemed much easier, even though our legs ached, our muscles strained and we were tired and loaded down with deer. The boys’ hours of practice at the shooting range had paid off, and Robert’s hunting skills had been passed on to his sons. We had smiles on our sunburned faces.

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Hunters can assist CWD monitoring 
By Tom Cadden, public information officer, Arizona Game and Fish Department

Map of regionsHunters can continue to assist the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s surveillance efforts for chronic wasting disease (CWD) this hunting season by submitting the heads of their deer or elk for testing. The department’s goal is to test 1,600 heads this season.

CWD is a neurological disease that is fatal to deer and elk. There is no scientific evidence to show it affects humans. Although the disease has not yet been found in Arizona, it has been detected in three bordering states: Colorado, Utah and New Mexico.

“Over the last several years the Arizona Game and Fish Department has been aggressively monitoring for CWD in our state,” says Lisa Shender, the department’s wildlife disease specialist. “The assistance of hunters has been invaluable in enabling us to obtain and test samples.”

Hunters can bring the head of their recently harvested deer or elk to any Game and Fish Department office between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. Place the head in a plastic garbage bag for delivery, and keep it cool and out of the sun if possible.

The Arizona Game and Fish Department will also be setting up selected biological check stations in different parts of the state to take samples from harvested deer or elk for CWD testing. Locations are:

Northern Arizona

  • The Jacob Lake check station on the North Kaibab will collect CWD samples on Nov. 3–5 and Nov. 10–12.
  • A check station in the Round Valley-Eagar area in northeastern Arizona will collect CWD samples at the junction of Highway 260 and Main Street from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Nov. 11–12.


Southern Arizona

  • A check station near Three Points, southwest of Tucson, will collect samples from noon until dark on Nov. 3 and all day Nov. 4–5.
  • Check stations will collect CWD samples in two areas in southwestern Arizona on Nov. 10-12. One will be north of Yuma on Highway 95 by the “big guns” at the Yuma Proving Ground. The other will be at the southern end of the Clanton Well Road by Whitewing Ranch in Game Management Unit 41. The department will also collect deer heads at the juniors camp in Unit 20C during the juniors deer hunt, Nov. 17–26.

To better assist the surveillance efforts, you will be asked to fill out a form when you drop off your deer or elk head at a department office or have a sample taken at a check station. Please include the following information: county and game management unit in which the animal was harvested, hunt and permit number, and an address and phone number where you can be reached. Note: If this information is not provided, the department will be unable to test the sample.

You will be notified of CWD test results by postcard within six to eight weeks. There is no charge to you for the testing and notification.


Although no evidence exists of CWD affecting humans, hunters are advised to avoid harvesting any animal that appears sick, and avoid consuming or handling any brain or spinal tissue.

Hunters are also asked to be observant in the field. If you see a deer or elk displaying symptoms of CWD, such as emaciation, stumbling gait, drooping ears, rough hair condition, visible salivation or loss of fear of humans, please contact the Arizona Game and Fish Department at (800) 352-0700.

In order to minimize the chance of the disease entering Arizona through the transport of infected animal tissues, hunters are also asked to take precautions when bringing harvested deer or elk into Arizona from another state. For a list of guidelines, or to learn more about CWD, visit

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Avian Influenza monitoring at some check stations
By Debbie Freeman, public information officer, Arizona Game and Fish Department

Some waterfowl and sandhill crane hunters may find a new type of monitoring at several check stations this year, including at Cibola National Wildlife Refuge, Havasu National Wildlife Refuge and Willcox Playa Wildlife Area. Arizona Game and Fish Department and federal officials will be taking samples to test for Avian Influenza, also known as bird flu.

The media has recently focused on one particular strain of bird flu called the Asian strain of highly pathogenic H5N1 Avian Influenza. This strain has not been detected in the United States or anywhere else in the entire Western Hemisphere. Human cases of this type of Avian Influenza have occurred in countries where people have daily close contact with domestic poultry and poultry excrement. However, the Arizona Game and Fish Department, in coordination with other state and federal agencies, is monitoring the status of the virus in the world.

Hunters and those who handle birds and other wildlife should continue to follow reasonable safety recommendations for this virus, as well as other diseases. These include:

  1. Don’t harvest or handle birds that are obviously sick, abnormally tame or found dead.
  2. Wear rubber gloves when cleaning game or bird feeders.
  3. Do not eat, drink or smoke when cleaning game or bird feeders.
  4. Wash hands carefully with soap and water or alcohol wipes immediately after handling game. Then disinfect tools and work surfaces with a 10% chlorine bleach solution.
  5. Cook birds thoroughly.

The most current information about this type of Avian Influenza is available at the federal government’s Web site at and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Web site at

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New laws of interest to hunters

By Tom Cadden and Debbie Freeman, public information officers, Arizona Game and Fish Department

Several new laws of interest to hunters became effective on Sept. 21. One prohibits intentionally interfering with a legal hunt. Another establishes stiffer penalties for poaching. A third prohibits the feeding of wildlife in certain high-population counties. Below is a brief overview of each law:

Hunter Harassment — HB 2130

This law makes it illegal to intentionally interfere with a lawful hunt in Arizona. The law does not apply to incidental interference arising from lawful activity by public land users, including recreationists, ranchers or miners; nor does it apply to landowners engaged in agricultural or livestock operations.

The law protects the rights of licensed hunters by prohibiting people from intentionally disrupting hunts through such actions as vandalizing a hunter’s equipment or property, obstructing or making physical contact with a hunter, or intentionally placing themselves between wildlife and someone attempting to legally hunt that wildlife.

Violation of the law is a misdemeanor, potentially punishable by a fine of up to $750 and four months in jail.

“The key word in the new law is the word ‘intentional,’” says Pat Barber, law enforcement branch chief of the Arizona Game and Fish Department. “We won’t be citing people for lawful activities that might accidentally affect a hunt. We will cite people who either have been previously warned, or who have indicated through action or word that they intend to disrupt a legal hunt."

Certain animal rights activists have attempted to disrupt legal hunts in the past. “This new law protects the rights of hunters and allows our officers to take enforcement actions to help ensure the safety of hunters and those who would attempt to disrupt their hunts,” says Barber.

As always, hunters need to continue to exercise safe hunting practices when out in the field. Barber recommends that all hunters take a hunter education course, which emphasizes firearms safety and safe hunting practices. Arizona has one of the nation’s best hunting safety records, attributable in large part to its hunter education program.

For a list of hunter education courses, visit and click on the “hunter education” link.

Stiffer poaching penalties — HB 2129

This law gives the Arizona Game and Fish Commission the authority to permanently revoke or suspend a person’s hunting privileges for various offenses, including unlawfully taking trophy or endangered species, taking three times the legally established limit, or committing repeat violations.

The legislation also creates a system of civil assessments and license revocations based on the number of convictions an individual has for unlawfully taking or wounding wildlife.

“Hunters statewide are supportive of this new law,” says Mike Senn, assistant director for field operations for the Arizona Game and Fish Department. “The vast majority of hunters respect our wildlife resources and obey the law, but there are a small number of blatant offenders who don’t. The new law gives our wildlife officers more enforcement tools and provides stiffer penalties for serious poachers, especially repeat offenders.”

“Many people don’t realize that wildlife is considered a state asset, owned by the people of Arizona,” says Michael Golightly, an Arizona Game and Fish Commissioner. “When poachers illegally take an animal, they are stealing from all of us.”

The legislation, sponsored by Rep. Jerry Weiers (R-Glendale), was passed by the Arizona Legislature and signed by Gov. Janet Napolitano in May.

Prohibition on wildlife feeding — HB 2129

When people intentionally feed wildlife, they can encourage these animals to stay in neighborhoods, become aggressive and even dangerous to humans. This law, which applies only to Maricopa and Pima counties, is aimed at preventing those problems.

“Many people think feeding wildlife is a helpful thing to do, and they enjoy seeing rabbits or deer spending time around their homes,” says Elissa Ostergaard, urban wildlife specialist in the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s Tucson office. “What also happens is that those animals attract larger, predatory animals to the neighborhoods. That’s when you have coyotes, javelina and other animals that can become a danger to people and harm their pets.”

State Sen. Toni Hellon of Tucson sponsored the bill that evolved into the wildlife-feeding law for Maricopa and Pima counties. The law does not affect people just feeding birds and tree squirrels or anyone carrying out normal livestock or agricultural operations. It is a public safety measure that will only stop those who are intentionally, knowingly or recklessly feeding wildlife.

“We do not intend to use this law unless someone is obviously creating a problem in a neighborhood that could affect other people, and he or she has already been warned,” says Mike Senn, head of the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s field operations division. “We prefer to educate people first, and this is a last resort option.”

Violation of the law is classified as a petty offense punishable by a fine of up to $300.

Problems associated with wildlife feeding include coyote attacks on eight child victims in areas of Maricopa County, two recent Phoenix-area incidents where javelina bit humans who were hand-feeding them, and several human-mountain lion encounters in 2004 in Sabino Canyon and near an elementary school in the Tucson area.

Conservation spotlight 

Hunt Of A Lifetime
By Tom Cadden, public information officer, Arizona Game and Fish Department

Many young people would love the chance to go on a hunting trip in Arizona, and many fine sportsmen’s and other organizations help provide that opportunity. But for a special group of youngsters—those diagnosed with life-threatening illnesses—that dream has a heightened sense of importance and urgency. A unique organization called Hunt Of A Lifetime helps them realize their dream.

The organization’s founding
Hunt Of A Lifetime is a national nonprofit organization that provides hunting and fishing adventures to children who have been diagnosed with life-threatening medical conditions. It was founded by Tina and Chester Pattison, a Pennsylvania couple whose 19-year-old son Matthew died of cancer in 1999.

Matt’s wish before he died was to hunt moose in Canada. The Pattisons contacted the national Make-A-Wish Foundation, but they were told the organization was no longer granting requests for hunting trips. A local outfitter in a small town in Alberta, Canada heard about the young man’s situation. The outfitter offered to provide the hunt for free, and a number of other people pitched in to provide transportation and provisions. Matt got to go on his hunt, and he harvested a moose. He died the following spring.

After Matt’s passing, Tina spread the word about how everyone’s efforts had positively affected her son. The anticipation and enjoyment associated with the hunt had done wonders for his spirit. She knew that other families might have the same needs. Through her efforts and the donated services and financial assistance of many other individuals and organizations, the nonprofit Hunt Of A Lifetime Foundation was founded.

Arizona’s “compassionate transfer” law
Arizona had a Hunt Of A Lifetime chapter, but it was limited in what it could do because the state had no provision to transfer donated tags. This changed last year due to the efforts of a sportsman named Terry Petko, who was the catalyst for changing Arizona law so a donated tag could be used by a youngster with a life-threatening medical condition.

“About five years ago, a friend of mine called to see if I could help take a terminally ill youth on a hunt in Arizona,” says Petko. “I contacted Tice Supplee, then the game chief at the Arizona Game and Fish Department, to see if we could get a donated tag. Tice told me there wasn’t a way to do that type of transfer at that time, and it would require a legislative change.”

Despite no experience in the legislative process, Petko began researching how to introduce and lobby a bill. He found a sponsor in Rep. Andy Biggs of District 22. The proposed legislation, known as the “compassionate transfer” bill, would allow an individual to donate his/her big game hunt tag to a qualified 501(c)(3) organization for use by a minor child with a life-threatening medical condition. The transfer would be facilitated by the Arizona Game and Fish Department.

The bill made it part-way through the legislative process two years ago but stalled. It was reintroduced last year, was passed by the Legislature, and was signed into law in April 2005 by Gov. Janet Napolitano.

Dedicated contributors
Petko’s efforts led to his being offered the position of “ambassador,” or local representative, of Arizona’s Hunt Of A Lifetime chapter. He says Arizona’s program last year put seven kids on different hunts for elk, mule deer and even bighorn sheep.

Petko gives credit for the program’s success to the efforts of many people. “A lot of dedicated sportsmen and women donate their time and services to this program,” he says. “We have guides and outfitters who offer to lead or help out with the hunts. Other sportsmen donate money and equipment.” 

Petko also says success wouldn’t be possible without the efforts of the “Team Arizona” members of the Arizona chapter: Stephanie Rainey (videography/photography); Don Martin (guide and outfitter coordinator); Terry Herndon (public information officer); Chris Denham (field editor); Dick King (regulatory liaison); Carla Denham (medical liaison); and Debra Petko (secretary/treasurer). 

The Arizona Game and Fish Commission recently voted to honor Petko and the Arizona chapter of Hunt Of A Lifetime with an Award of Excellence. The award will be presented at the annual Meet the Commission awards in January.

Petko feels the program has enriched the volunteers’ lives in many ways. “When you see the amazing courage these kids have in dealing with adversity, it is truly inspirational,” he says. “Seeing the smiles on those young faces when they go on their hunts touches everyone involved. We live for those smiles.”

To find out more information about Hunt Of A Lifetime, visit or contact Terry Petko at (602) 689-9524. If you have a big game tag you will be unable to use and wish to donate, you can do that through the Web site. The site also includes photos and stories from past hunts.

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Volunteer opportunities for hunters 
By Sandy Reith, volunteer coordinator, Arizona Game and Fish Department

The Arizona Game and Fish Department’s volunteer program provides opportunities for volunteers to participate firsthand in managing Arizona’s wildlife resources. Our goal is to provide you with a congenial and cooperative atmosphere where you can build relationships with staff and other volunteers, and gain knowledge about Arizona wildlife and wildlife management. We recognize that your time is important and strive to provide rewarding and educational volunteer experiences.

We’ve listed some opportunities below that we think you might find interesting. To learn about other opportunities or to submit information about a project that would benefit from our volunteers, check our volunteer page at

Adopt-a-ranch project at Horseshoe Ranch, Dec. 2

The Arizona Antelope Foundation, ASU Conservation Biology class, and Arizona Game and Fish Department will be modifying fencing at the Horseshoe Ranch, southeast of Cordes Junction. This project will require a lot of hiking and lifting and will run from 7:30 a.m. until late afternoon. Gloves and tools will be provided, and training will be provided on site. Volunteers may camp on Friday and/or Saturday nights. The Arizona Antelope Foundation will provide dinner, so please R.S.V.P. if you plan to attend to (623) 236-7492 or visit, or contact Arizona Game and Fish Department Volunteer Coordinator Sandy Reith at (623) 236-7680.

Range safety officers needed at Ben Avery Shooting Facility
Responsibilities include checking the safe condition of customer firearms, observing participants while they are shooting on the range, maintaining safe operation of the shooting line, and providing superior customer service by answering customer questions about firearms. Volunteers shoot for free at the Ben Avery Shooting Facility. Contact Arizona Game and Fish Department Volunteer Coordinator Sandy Reith at (623) 236-7680.

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Vol. 2 No. 5 Oct./Nov. 2006
In this issue:

Manage your account:
Follow the link below to unsubscribe from this mailing, to change other account subscriptions or to change your e-mail address and contact information. Edit your account.

Visit the archives:
August 2006

June 2006

April 2006

February 2006

December 2005

October 2005
August 2005

Send us your stories and questions! We welcome mail from readers and will try to feature the following in each issue:

Been hunting?
Do you have a photo and story you’d like to share about your recent hunting trip? We’d like to include one hunter's story in each issue of Hunting Highlights. Send your picture and a brief story to the Hunting Highlights editor.

Junior hunters
Do you have a photo and story about a youth hunt (your own or that of your child or grandchild)? We’d like to share one junior hunter’s story in each issue of Hunting Highlights. Send your picture and a brief story to the Hunting Highlights editor.

Conservation spotlight
Are you excited about the mission and activities of your wildlife conservation organization? In the Conservation Spotlight, our readers will share your excitement. To get your group into the spotlight, e-mail the Hunting Highlights editor.

Ask a wildlife manager
Is there something you’ve always wanted to ask a game warden? All questions are fair game in this periodic feature. If you’ve got a question for our wildlife managers, e-mail the Hunting Highlights editor.

Hunter education
Hunter education classes are scheduled throughout the year in many locations around the state. This list is updated weekly, and new classes are being offered all the time.

If you are planning on hunting in another state, please check with that state well in advance of your hunt to see if proof of hunter education is required.

Remember our safety phrase: T.A.B. T=Treat every gun as if it were loaded. A=Always point your muzzle in a safe direction.

B=Be sure of your target and what is beyond. Happy hunting!

News and notes

Arizona Game and Fish Commission supports Proposition 106,
opposes Proposition 207

The Arizona Game and Fish Commission is expressing its official view on two November ballot measures that will affect wildlife habitat in our state. The commission voted to support Proposition 106 and oppose Proposition 207.

Proposition 106, also known as “Conserving Arizona’s Future,” would set aside 694,000 acres of land that could not be sold or developed. The measure also provides a better response to growth by enabling state and local authorities to cooperate in the planning of communities and open space. Additionally, sales of state trust land included in the measure would protect and guarantee classroom funding to ensure better public schools for Arizona.

“Proposition 106 is dedicated to conserving and protecting some of the most important natural areas in our state for future generations,” said Arizona Game and Fish Commissioner Michael M. Golightly. “The commission supports this proposition because we need to value and protect essential habitat for Arizona’s diverse wildlife populations.”

Proposition 207, the “Private Property Rights Protection Act,” would place new restrictions on Arizona governments' ability to compel the sale of property for private use through eminent domain. It also would require compensation for government actions that reduce property values.

“The commission is concerned that if Proposition 207 is passed, protecting wildlife habitat would be more costly or unfeasible. Far-sighted efforts to preserve our quality of life, such as Pima County's award-winning Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan, would be crippled,” Golightly said.

For more information on Propositions 106 and 207, visit the Arizona Secretary of State Web site at

Successful archery deer hunters must report harvest
All archery deer hunters are reminded they must contact an Arizona Game and Fish Department office in person or by telephone at 1-866-903-3337 within 10 days of taking a deer.

"The archery report-in process is crucial in helping us collect accurate archery deer harvest data so we can make sound wildlife management decisions,” says Game Chief Leonard Ordway. “Please report your harvest to help us collect this important data.”

Archery deer hunters who fail to comply with this rule could be cited by the department.

Return your hunter questionnaire

The department uses the hunter questionnaire to estimate harvest and hunter participation levels. Accurate data are necessary for making sound wildlife management decisions. Your response, whether you were successful or unsuccessful, or even did not hunt, is essential for obtaining accurate data. Your response is voluntary and in no way affects your chances of being drawn for a permit-tag in subsequent years. Unreturned questionnaires cost money, while providing no data. Help us use sportsmen’s dollars more efficiently to manage wildlife—please return your hunter questionnaire!

Public input sought on Arizona's OHV management bill

The Arizona Game and Fish Department, on behalf of the Off-highway Vehicle Legislative Workgroup and Arizona Game and Fish Commission, is seeking input from the public regarding the "Copper Sticker" off-highway vehicle (OHV) user fee proposed draft legislation. Informational open houses are continuing around the state in November, and written comment will be accepted until Nov. 26.

The Off-highway Vehicle Legislative Workgroup, a group comprised of OHV recreationists and outdoor user groups, land management agencies, county and local governments, and Game and Fish, have worked together to develop a "copper sticker" program to improve OHV management in Arizona. The draft legislation will enhance funding for OHV programs, including the maintenance and development of OHV trails and routes, education and information programs, enhanced law enforcement resources and mitigation for damage to environmental, historical and cultural resources from OHV recreation.

For a list of public meetings, or to download the proposed legislation or submit comment, click here or visit

Small game hunt camps for new residents

If you’re new to Arizona and interested in hunting small game, but not sure where to start, consider attending a small game camp this fall. Registration is now closed for the first camp, Nov. 3–5 at Vincent Ranch, about 45 miles south of Winslow, Ariz., but there is still time to sign up for the second camp, Dec. 1-3 at Robbins Butte Wildlife Area, about 7 miles southwest of Buckeye, Ariz. Attendance is free (with a $20 refundable deposit to hold your spot). You’ll walk away with all the know-how you need to go after Arizona rabbits, dove and quail.

The camps, which are sponsored by American Fire Equipment and offered with the invaluable assistance of the Chandler Rod and Gun Club, include free meals, free instruction and the free use of hunting equipment during the camps. For more information or to get a registration form, visit

Watch "Arizona Wildlife Views" television

The 2006 season of the "Arizona Wildlife Views" television show is going strong. The show airs on KAET-TV in Phoenix at 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays and 4:30 p.m. Sundays, and on KUAT-TV in Tucson at 6 p.m. Sundays. The award-winning show, produced by the Arizona Game and Fish Department, includes segments on wildlife, fishing, hunting, boating, off-roading and many other subjects. For a schedule of topics each show will cover, visit the department's Web site.

Subscribe to "Arizona Wildlife Views" magazine

There’s something about camp cooking that just makes food taste a little better than it does anywhere else. Maybe it’s the campfire camaraderie; maybe it’s the pleasure of sharing the bounty of a successful hunt; or maybe it’s the cook’s skill with a Dutch oven. In the November-December issue of "Arizona Wildlife Views" magazine, learn the secrets of Dutch oven cooking from the masters. Subscribe for just $8.50 a year by calling (800) 777-0015. Each 40-page issue of this award-winning magazine offers stories about Arizona wildlife and outdoor recreation, illustrated with gorgeous full-color photography. Call today!

Game recipe

By Scott Reger, from “Almost All Things Edible” (the Game and Fish Department cookbook)

2 onions, diced

2 cloves garlic, diced

1/4 green pepper, diced

1 1/2 pounds lean meat, cut in 1-inch cubes

3/4 pound fresh mushrooms, sliced

1 pkg. stroganoff seasoning mix

1 tsp. nutmeg

1 tsp. basil

1 1/2 tbs. parsley

1 cup water

1 pint sour cream

This is always a big favorite for those who like this sort of rich meat dish. Any good red meat will work; elk is especially good. Serves 4 to 6 people.

In a large skillet, sauté onion, pepper and garlic in oil, then remove from pan. Brown the meat well and remove. Sauté the mushrooms. Return onion mixture and meat, and add all other ingredients except sour cream. Mix well and simmer 1/2 hour. Add sour cream and mix well, return to simmer, then reduce heat to just keep warm until serving. Serve over buttered noodles or rice.

For more great game recipes, purchase “Almost All Things Edible.” Visit for an order form.

Dates to remember
Nov. 24, 2006: Mearns' quail season begins (runs through Feb. 12, 2007).

Feb. 13, 2007: Application deadline for elk, antelope.

March 9-11, 2007: International Sportsmen's Exposition, Glendale, Ariz. (visit the Arizona Game and Fish Department exhibit area).

March 31 and April 1, 2007: Arizona Game and Fish Department Outdoor Expo, Ben Avery Shooting Facility.

Hot links


Thank you hunters!
Arizona’s rich outdoor heritage is enjoyed by all, thanks to hunters like you, whose purchase of hunting equipment supports wildlife management and habitat enhancement in the Grand Canyon State. When you purchase a rifle, ammunition, archery equipment and other sporting gear, you pay a federal excise tax and import duties. Since 1937, this money has been collected by the federal government and redistributed to the states using a formula based on hunting license sales and the state’s land area. In 2004, that meant more than $5 million for game management in Arizona. This money paid for game surveys, hunter education classes, wildlife water catchment construction and wildlife research, among other projects. Hunters like you are part of the largest and most successful wildlife conservation programs in the world… Thank you.